Monday, September 23, 2013

Lunchbox (2013) - Movie Review

This review was first published on Times City.

Release Date: September 20, 2013

Starring: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Director: Ritesh Batra
Producer: Anurag Kashyap, Guneet Monga, Karan Johar, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Arun Rangachari

There's nothing that hasn't already been written about the film, from its technical brilliance to its heart-warming performances. The Lunchbox's narrative deals with urban loneliness, woven around a thirty-something Ila (Nimrat Kaur), a housewife whose usual day centers around her school-going daughter and an almost indifferent husband.
It's Mrs. Deshpande on the upper floor, however, who keeps her constant company, keeping both her life and the film alive with their conversations. It's interesting how the director teases our curiosity by never really showing the friendly neighbour. It's a voice-over by a very popular TV actor Bharti Achrekar. 

Ila's life, otherwise, is as bland as our boring, uptight Sajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan), who happens to cross paths with her (not literally, unfortunately), thanks to a wrongly delivered dabba. [Harvard's research on Mumbai dabbawallas shows only ONE out of every SIX MILLION deliveries goes amiss] No wonder Ila's dabbawalla confidently rebuts "galat address par ja hi nahi sakta." The film captures their everyday diligence, sometimes at the risk of getting repetitive. 

Why the film has garnered so much appreciation is evident more in its execution than the script itself. The director's attention to detail is overwhelming - from the story [he subtly communicates Sajan's transformation, for instance, into a more likable fellow, by the little girl's reaction, who lives across his house] to the characters [from Ila's look (chipped nail paint, undone eyebrow) to how Sajan Fernandes distractedly awaits the delivery of the dabba even before its lunchtime, to how his colleague looks askance at him every time he smells the dabba, to how the letter in the licked-clean dabba becomes a guilty pleasure in Ila's otherwise mundane life]. I like how the director does not melodramatize the characters' plight, staying true to one of its dialogues "Life is never as bad as it seems."

All performances are exemplary. Irrfan emotes with his face. Dialogues come secondary when you're watching powerful actors like him. Nimrat, too, with minimal dialogues, is convincing. The show stealer, however, for me was Nawazuddin Siddiqui. With every film, he reveals a new dimension to him. He doesn't appear to be 'playing' a character. It's as if he is the character. The naturalness he brings in every role, never ceases to amaze me and I daresay, he outdoes Irrfan in a few scenes. 

Overall, like Mr Amitabh Bachchan sums it up on Twitter: Lunchbox is quite the film to be seen by the connoisseurs of sensitivity!